Overcoming Obstacles in Our Lives: Part 2
Pastor Gregory Swift
June 16, 2019
There is a story in the O.T. about a man named Nehemiah, Who was exiled as a slave to the empire of Babylonia from his homeland. He worked for King Artaxeres, the king of Persia, as the cupbearer to the king. He was a well liked and trusted friend of Artaxerxes. One day, a fellow Israelite approached Nehemiah, and told him about the desperate condition of Jerusalem as it had no way to defend itself without the walls around the city. Nehemiah was sad, burdened, and fearful for his people and his nation.
Before he asked the king’s permission to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, Nehemiah prayed, and prayed boldly to God. So he went to the King in this saddened state with a request, we pick up the story in Nehemiah 2:4-5:
The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
So the King granted his request! Nehemiah would return to his homeland to take on the biggest project of his life, as God had granted Nehemiah’s prayer request.
As we study Nehemiah, we find in this great project his heartfelt concern and anguish over the damaged walls and ruined gates of the capital city of his country. It echoes our heartfelt concern and the anguish that many of us may feel about areas that have been damaged in our lives by sinful habits, wrong attitudes, or feelings of bitterness or resentment. Then we have seen Nehemiah's quick response to the opportunity to rebuild when it was given to him. This reflects our need to respond to opportunities that may be given to us to recover.
Three principles from the life of Nehemiah about overcoming obstacles.
Step 1: The Rebuilding of Our Lives:
Let’s look at this parable about the wise old man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25 says,
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
This parable describes the need for proper foundations in our lives. Each of us is building a life to the best of our ability. The proper foundation for a life is Jesus’ Words, not just hearing them, yet living them out and doing them. If we do we will be rewarded with a rock solid house that is Unshaken by circumstances. Jesus is the master builder when it comes to rebuilding our lives.
Many of us today are trying to rebuild something in our lives. Maybe a Godly life, a Godly marriage, a Godly family, or building Godly character, or Godly career at your work site. Rebuilding begins with trusting and obeying in Jesus’ Word. Then we can start rebuilding our lives. Many people try to rebuild their lives with their own words and wisdom, yet that house will crumble with the first storm or tragedy in their life.
There are 2 types of people in this world those that are One type is the building crew rebuilding their lives, and those who are on the wrecking crew who are destroying their lives. People on the building crew have a caring tongue, who faithfully encourage others, People on the wrecking crew have a conniving tongue who are filled with gossip, slander, and a desire to twist the truth. We want to make sure we are on the building crew by building ourselves up in the Lord, building up God’s people and building up God’s Kingdom. Just as God gave Nehemiah a job to do, God will give us a job to do, or a assignment to complete, or a ministry to build others up. He will give you the spiritual skills to complete this work, However, this work that you do will be challenged.
In Nehemiah 4:1-2 says,
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”
Sanballat tried to scare Nehemiah away and he tried to discourage Nehemiah with his scorn, his threats, and his bluffs. Sanballat did not want returned exiles from Babylonia to take Control of the land and thus threaten his secure position as a governor. We, like Nehemiah, have an enemy who opposes us with craftiness and power.
Sounds like the devil in our life doesn’t it, Here is the devil talking……
- Do you think you can do something special in your life?
- Do you think that you can actually accomplish that goal in your life?
- Or that vision in your life, who do you think you are kidding!
He mocks you and riducles you, Those however; who were mocking and laughing that day when the wall began, were not mocking and laughing 52 days later when that wall was completely rebuilt. Here is a take away from this with success you will have opposition! We have to learn with God’s grace to be a Overcomer of the opposition. How do we handle the opposition in a Godly way, so we do not swear, we do not yell, or be inpatient or critical of people. Living the life of Godly integrity you will be opposed, or living for Jesusyou will be opposed, or raising Godly kids you will be opposed. Nehemiah gives us these incredible examples on handle to handle this opposition.
Step 2: Obedience to Prayer to Handle Opposition: .
Depend on God in prayer when obstacles stand in your way. (See 4:4-5,9) In the book of Nehemiah we find twelve prayers which Nehemiah prayed. He was a man of prayer and brought his problems before God. Ridicule can cut deeply causing discouragement and despair, This is what Sanballat and Tobiah did to dissuade the Jews from building the wall. When we are taunted, mocked, or ridiculed we do not have to respond in the same way.
Let’s look how Nehemiah prayed in 4:4 as it says,
Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.
Nehemiah is expressing his anger to God but does not take matters in his own hands. Nehemiah is basically saying, They are mocking you God, “You decide what to do with them,”Here is a very encouraging verse in Proverbs 24:16 says,
for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
Meaning no matter how often an honest man or woman falls, we always get up again, and the wicked will continue to stumble, crumble, and fall. God has created the potential for new beginnings into the very design of our universe, and for good reason. Every hero of Scripture needed new beginnings. Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit, Moses after he killed the Egyptian, David after his adulterous relationship, Elijah after an emotional breakdown, and the disciples after Good Friday, and so do we.
Step 3: Persevere in the Midst of Obstacles and Challenges.
Nehemiah endure trail after trail. He did not let that sway him. We need to stay focused on our purpose. As the trials came Nehemiah stayed focused on the purpose at hand. During one of those trials, Saballat and Tobiah were desperate, as the Wall was almost complete. So they tried a new approach, They attacked Nehemiah personally, by creating rumors, False accusations, and tried to turn the people against him. So desperate were these two that they wanted to meet w/Nehemiah to ambush him and kill him. Yet Nehemiah did not waiver, and sent
"I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down." (see 6:3).
We need to protect our integrity as Christians. In Nehemiah chapter 5 we find Nehemiah’s leadership contrasted with that of the selfish, corrupt "Nobles and rulers." The corrupt leaders had selfishly abused their leadership role with the people. Not so with Nehemiah. Illustration: In chapter 5 Nehemiah is talking with the priests, nobles, and the officials, and he made them take an oath to do what they promised. Nehemiah shook out the fold in his garment, and pronounced, “Anyone who does not keep his promise would likewise be shaken out and emptied. This is how we shake off opposition in our lives.We shake off rumors, gossip, deceit, criticism, and false reports, and Just keep doing what God would want us to do.
So the take away here form this passage is Nehemiah was the great starter yet also the great finisher of this grand project. Nehemiah built the wall in record time in 52 days. There are people who are great starters in things in life yet never finish the projects that they start. Nehemiah was the classic example of a great finisher. The great part of finishing in the peace that it brings us after we complete a project. I pray that you will overcome the obstacles that stand in your way and you may have that everlasting peace in your life. Jesus was the greatest overcomer of all time and finisher of all time. John 16:33 says,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
He who overcomes will receive the blessings that God has promised. We can learn from the life of Nehemiah valuable lessons in restoring and maintaining a relationship with God.
As the people returned to the rebuilt city, the first order of business was to make certain that they understood the Law of Moses. So Ezra, a priest, spent many hours reading the Law before the assembly, making sure they understood what God desired.
Nehemiah 8:18 records what should be part of every believer’s life, the daily reading of God’s Word:
“Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.”
Nehemiah stands as a testament to faithfulness and perseverance. He lived far away from his home, yet he never gave up hope that someday he would return to it. He spent most of his life in exile in a pagan land, yet he never wavered in his faith and trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was a prayer warrior, putting everything before the Lord in prayer, interceding on behalf of his people, and he was rewarded for his diligence and perseverance. Nehemiah cared so much for his people that he never gave up the hope of their restoration to their homeland.
In conclusion: The Opposition said it could not be done, yet Nehemiah did not allow the obstacles to defeat him. He overcame. Sometimes, we need to gain a new perspective in our situation, especially in the midst of tragedy, heartache, selfishness, or a sense of hopelessness. Power is available through Jesus…..a power that is beyond our strength, A supernatural strength beyond human strength, to overcome what we are facing. Paul says, we are delivered by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Thus our source of strength is in Him our Lord and Savior. We need to reflect, to re-build our character, and acknowledging that we have worth in God’s eyes through the love of Christ. Are we willing to ask God to fulfill His promise to refresh and rebuild our lives? Or, maybe we are like a Nehemiah who can help and intercede for others and encourage those in need. Once we take the step of obedience, He will help us move ahead. Because God is in the business of rebuilding broken lives. Nehemiah 6:16 says,
So the wall was completely rebuilt on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul in 52 days. It had taken fifty-two days.”
It happened to them, and it can happen to you, too as Jesus is in the business of transforming people; changing ordinary people into extra-ordinary people. Amen. I pray that we will pass through every struggle, Endure every trail, overcome every hurdle, Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Working in us and through us.